Body Parts in Italian: Words and Expressions to Get Down to the Bones About il Corpo

Like any language, Italian is absolutely full of expressions, proverbs and sayings that reference the body.

And being able to talk about the body, of course, is also very useful for many more practical reasons.

Whether you’re describing people, visiting the doctor or dentist or lining up a date on a dating site, knowing your eyes from your ears, your toes from your fingers and your head from your heart is something sure to come in mightily handy.

In this post, we’ll teach you all of the most important body parts in Italian to get you started.

We’ll also take a look at various ways that these words can be used in context, from trips to the doctor right on through to a list of 15 awesome, funny idiomatic expressions about body parts common in everyday conversation.

So, let’s begin learning all about il corpo (the body)!

Body Parts in Italian: Words and Expressions to Get Down to the Bones About il Corpo

Body Parts in Italian: The Upper Body


Arm — il braccio (BRACH-oh)

Armpit — l’ascella (ash-EL-lah)

Cheeks — le guance (GWAN-che)

Chest — il petto (PEH-toe)

Chin — il mento (MEN-toe)

Collarbone — la clavicola (cla-VEE-co-lah)

Ears — le orecchie (or-EH-kee-eh)

Elbow — il gomito (GOH-mee-toe)

Eyes — gli occhi (OH-kee)

Face — il viso (VEEH-zo)

Finger — il dito (DEE-toe)

Hand — la mano (MAH-no)

Jaw — la mandibola (man-DEE-bo-lah)

Lips — le labbra (LAH-brah)

Middle finger — il medio (MEH-dee-oh)

Mouth — la bocca (BO-kah)

Neck — il collo (KOH-loh)

Nose — il naso (NA-zoh)

Pinkie — il mignolo (mee-NYO-loh)

Rib — la costola (COS-toh-lah)

Ring finger — l’anulare (ah-NOO-lareh)

Shoulder — la spalla (SPAH-lah)

Spine — la spina dorsale (SPEE-nah dor-SAH-leh)

Stomach — lo stomaco (STOH-ma-koh)

Teeth — i denti (DEN-tee)

Throat — la gola (GO-lah)

Thumb — il pollice (PAWL-ee-cheh)

Tongue — la lingua (LEEN-gwah)

Tummy — la pancia (PAN-chah)

Wrist — il polso (POL-soh)

Body Parts in Italian: The Lower Body


nkle — la caviglia (ka-VEE-lyah)

Bottom — il sedere (seh-DEH-reh) [polite], il culo (COO-loh) [less polite]

Calf — il polpaccio (pole-PAH-choh)

Foot — il piede (pee-EH-deh)

Heel — il tallone (tah-LON-eh)

Hip — l’anca (AN-kah)

Knee — il ginocchio (gin-OH-keeyoh)

Leg — la gamba (GAM-bah)

Shin — lo stinco (STEEN-koh)

Toe — il dito del piede (DEE–toe del pee-EH-deh)

Body Parts in Italian: Other Parts of the Anatomy


Artery — l’arteria (ar-ter-EE-ah)

Body hair — i peli (PEH-lee)

Bone — l’osso (OH-soh)

Brain — il cervello (cher-VEH-loh)

Hair — i capelli (kah-PEH-lee)

Heart — il cuore (koo-oh-reh)

Liver — il fegato (FEH-gah-toe)

Lungs — i polmoni (pool-MOH-nee)

Muscle — il muscolo (MOOS-koo-loh)

Nail — l’unghia (OON-gee-ah)

Nerve — il nervo (NER-voh)

Skin — la pelle (PEH-leh)

Vein — la vena (VEH-nah)

Italian Body Parts in Action: Some Useful and Practical Expressions

Now that we know all of the most important parts of the body in Italian, let’s look at a few ways that we might use them in practice.

At the Doctor’s or the Hospital


When visiting the doctor, there are various ways to express that you have a complaint or ailment. The most common are:

Ho mal di _____.  — I have a bad _____.

Mi fa ma male _____— My _____ hurts.

Let’s look at some examples:

Mi fa male lo stomaco. – I have a tummy ache.

Ho mal di testa. — I have a headache.

Mi fa male la spalla. — my shoulder hurts.

Credo che la mia gamba sia rotta. — I think my leg is broken.

To talk about a more long-term ailment, we can use the expression messo male:

Ho una caviglia messa male. — I have a bad ankle.

At the Dentist’s


Ho mal di denti. — I have toothache.

Ho un forte dolore sul lato sinistro della mandibola. — I have a bad pain on the left side of my jaw.

Questo dente mi fa male quando mangio. — This tooth hurts when I eat.

Social and Everyday Expressions

Posso darti una mano? — Can I give you a hand?

Devo farmi le unghie. — I need to get a manicure.

Hai dei bellissimi occhi. — You have beautiful eyes.

Sono stanco. Mi si chiudono gli occhi. — I’m tired. My eyes are closing.

Sto mettendo su pancia. — I’m getting fat! (Literally: “I’m getting a belly.”)

Diamo un’occhiata. — Let’s take a look.

Ha la testa altrove. — His head is somewhere else/in the clouds.

15 Awesome Italian Proverbs and Colloquial Expressions Related to the Body

To wrap things up, let’s take a look at a selection of very useful colloquial expressions with body parts that you can expect to hear frequently in Italian conversation.

1. A chi dai il dito si prende anche il braccio.

Literal translation: Those you give a finger to, they also take the arm.

English equivalent: Give an inch and they’ll take a mile.

2. A chi parla poco, basta la metà del cervello.

Literal translation: Those who speak little only need half of the brain.

English equivalent: The more you talk, the less you say.

3. Alzare il gomito.

Literal translation: To lift the elbow.

English equivalent: To knock back drinks.

For example:

Ho i postumi di una sbronza. Ieri sera ho alzato il gomito! — I have a hangover. Last night I knocked them back!

4. Alzarsi con il piede sbagliato.

Literal translation: To get up with the wrong foot.

English equivalent: To get out on the wrong side of bed.

For example:

Oggi è molto scontroso. Mi sa che si è alzato con il piede sbagliato stamattina. — He’s very grumpy today. I think he got out on the wrong side of bed.

 5. Avere il police verde.

Literal translation: To have the green thumb.

English equivalent: To have a green thumb/green fingers.

For example:

Lui è sempre nell’orto. Ha davvero il pollice verde. — He’s always in the vegetable garden. He really has a green thumb.

6. Con il cuore in mano.

Literal translation: With the heart in hand.

English equivalent: With your heart on your sleeve.

For example:

Mi ha parlato con il cuore in mano. — He spoke to me with his heart on his sleeve.

7. Costare un occhio della testa.

Literal translation: To cost an eye from the head.

English equivalent: To cost an arm and a leg.

For example:

La mia nuova giacca era davvero costosa. Mi è costata un occhio della testa! — My new jacket was really expensive. It cost me an arm and a leg!

8. Essere alla mano

Literal translation: To be at the hand.

English equivalent: To be down to earth.

For example:

Lei è davvero simpatica e accessibile. È veramente una persona alla mano. — She’s really friendly and approachable. She’s a truly down–to–earth person.

9. Essere in gamba

Literal translation: To be on your legs.

English equivalent: To be on the ball, mentally sharp or upstanding.

For example:

Lui e vecchio, ma è ancora molto in gamba. — He’s old but he’s still very on the ball.

10. La famiglia è la patria del cuore.

Literal translation: The family is the homeland of the heart.

English equivalent: Home is where the heart is.

11. Sognare ad occhi aperti.

Literal translation: To dream with your eyes open.

English equivalent: To daydream.

For example:

Invece di sognare ad occhi aperti tutto il pomeriggio, prova a fare qualcosa di utile! — Instead of daydreaming all afternoon, try to do something useful!

12. Non chiudere occhio.

Literal translation: To not close an eye.

English equivalent: To not sleep a wink.

For example:

Sono stanco morto. Non ho chiuso occhio ieri notte. — I’m dead tired. I didn’t sleep a wink last night.

13. Non avere peli sulla lingua.

Literal translation: To not have hairs on your tongue.

English equivalent: To speak frankly.

For example:

Lei non scherza quando parla. Non ha davvero peli sulla lingua! — She doesn’t mess around when she speaks. She really doesn’t have any hairs on her tongue!

14. Fare il passo più lungo della gamba.

Literal translation: To take a step longer than the leg.

English equivalent: To bite off more than you can chew.

For example:

Ho chiesto più compiti ma ora non credo di riuscire a finirli. Ho fatto il passo più lungo della gamba! — I asked for more homework but now I don’t think that I can finish it. I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.

15. Un lavoro fatto con i piedi.

Literal translation: A job done with the feet.

English equivalent: A badly done job. / To make a mess of something.

For example:

Il falegname ha fatto il lavoro in cucina con i piedi. Dovremmo chiedere un rimborso! — The joiner made a mess of the new kitchen. We should ask for a refund!


Well done! You now know the parts of the body in Italian and a handful of useful idiomatic expressions related to anatomy. Give yourself a hand!

Kieran James Cunningham (a.k.a. “The Kilted Climber”) is a Scottish author and freelance writer based in Sondrio, Lombardy.

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